Tom Sullivan
(Special Effects - The Evil Dead; Army of Darkness)
Tom SullivanMy Genetic structure was altered at age 5 when I saw the first half of the original King Kong. I reckon this happened about 1960. The island and dinosaurs magical look stunned me. Curiosity about new mysteries started to become a creative obsession. After seeing what I could of this action filled adventure set in a fantastic world, I wanted to go to Skull Island. It took a year to see the full film thanks to a vigilant Mom. Thanks Mom.

I knew immediately that adults made this film and if that is a career option then sign me up. I started drawing and sculpting dinosaurs and reading all I could about movies, dinosaurs and monsters at my school libraries. I became pretty good at research. Geeky and nerdy also. As one of the “Children of Kong” I followed a similar routine that now seems programmed into some viewers of that movie. The first “Kinder Kong” was Ray Harryhausen. Of course he has inspired generations of filmmakers who create images today never before possible.

What affects me most about the creators of Kong and Sinbad and the army of special effects wizards is the range of technical and artistic skills they possess. They Draw, Paint, Sculpt, can mold their own work in a variety of materials. They can Photograph, Animate, Create Mattes and composite diversely shot film elements into masterpieces. First and foremost they can also tell stories. Film combines more artistic and scientific disciplines than any other form of expression. I was attracted to that challenge. I bought my first 8MM movie camera at age 11 and started my solitary education in Film effects.

I animated clay Cyclops and Dinosaurs and soon saw the benefits of wire and foam rubber. I also pixilated the neighborhood kids driving around my family’s yard.

The actors would sit on the ground and I would expose a frame and then they would scoot forward about a foot and I would shoot another frame. I stole the idea from a popular commercial. The kids all wore out their pants.

In High School I stared taking Art very seriously after discovering the Artwork of Frank Frazetta. Another popular Master of his Art and Craft. Best known for his Conan the Barbarian and Edgar Rice Burroughs book covers I found him to be an artist whom does everything right. He knows all the rules and just how to break them. He also knows how to make a painting go POW!!! So I studied Frazetta and bought every book cover of his I came across. My interests have been split between Illustration and Making Movies ever since. I appreciate the overlap of the two skills and alternate between them every couple of years. In the mid 1970’s I started doing comic Art work for Power Comics out of East Lansing.

I did some superhero paintings and did the art for two “Figure of Mystery” stories that were published. The pendulum swings to Art. I met some aspiring filmmakers in Jackson Michigan and did some Posters, Paintings and Sculptures to help promote their movie that was never made called “The Cry of Cthulhu”. We did get some attention from Cinefantastique and Starlog and both published my art with their articles.

The swing goes towards film. My wife Penny went to Michigan State University so we moved to East Lansing and there I met Sam Raimi, Rob Tapert and Bruce Campbell, and the rest of their creative group. We would get together, eat pizza and show each other’s Super 8mm movies. This led to diverse collaborations. I vocalized some sound effects of poisonous tablets being dropped into a beverage for Sam’s feature length Super 8mm comedy “It’s Murder!”

I did the titles for Sam’s short shocker “Clockwork” and a couple of posters for their film showings on M.S.U.’s campus. Sam was writing a script called “Book of the Dead’ and was pretty secretive about it.
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